There were still a few bits and pieces left to see in Austin. To start off I walked over to the Hope Outdoor Gallery. This was touted as one of the main things to see in Austin. It was kind of OK. While there were undoubtedly some excellent art pieces, a lot of them had been sprayed over with crappy stuff. I’m probably completely missing the point of street art though. You can’t complain too much though as it’s free. It was then onto Zilker Park, across the river. Within the park is Barton Springs Pool, an outdoor swimming pool heated by natural springs. The pool is huge with all sorts of diving boards and the like. This place must be great during the summer. There were still a few people swimming today. I’d have gone in if I’d brought my trunks. With the pool consisting of natural water, rather than the chlorinated variety, it’s also home to salamanders. There are numerous signs informing visitors of this. It was more for people not to disturb them rather than them being harmful to humans, as they tend to mind their own business underneath rocks.
Austin has a huge live music scene. It punches well above its weight for a relatively small city and hosts two major music festivals, Austin City Limits and South By South West. The latter takes place in hundreds of venues across the city. Lots people move to Austin to pursue their dreams of a career in music and hence there’s all sorts of open mic live music happening in bars. I think the last time I was here it must have been on a day later in the week as a lot more bars were open during afternoon happy hour on 6th Street. I still managed to find a few good places with decent live music.
Someone from Austin told me that Rainey Street is the place where all the cool people in Austin go and that this has somewhat replaced 6th Street. I wandered over for a look. Rainey Street was quite nice with lots of houses having been converted into bars. Most of the places seemed to be part of the fancy dan and trendy genre. I couldn’t find any $2 PBRs! There was an Indian restaurant on Rainey Street with a menu that included scallop chicken tikka masala (in almond cream). It sounds a bit pretentious but I bet it’s nice. In Craft Pride I got talking to a couple who were from Bellingham, Washington, where I lived a while ago. They were big artisan beer fans and I was a bit out of my depth in a conversation about hops and fermentation. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them after years of drinking Carling that my palette isn’t sophisticated enough for such products! The young lady behind the bar was telling me that Rainey Street is definitely one of the places to be in Austin. Nearby is a place with a huge patio seating hundreds, called Bangers. All they sell are sausages and a huge selection of beers. At the weekend there will be queues around the block to get into the place. As she put it, people in Austin love queuing.
So far I haven’t managed to find any bargains from the travel companies so-called Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. Therefore unless I discover a last minute deal it’s more than likely I’ll stay in the United States until Christmas. I’m happy to do that though. It’s a vast enough country that there’s still plenty left to see and I can work my way around visiting all 50 states.